A sustainable suburbia


By Alan M. Berger, Professor of Landscape and Urbanism at M.I.T. and Director Emeritus of the M.I.T. Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism; and David Gordon, Professor and former Director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada. 

Our development strategy for suburbia in the coming years will be the most fundamental factor in future sustainability. The 2020 census revealed what has long been evident: Last century’s war between the cities and the suburbs is over. The suburbs won. The communities where most new development is taking place are not just suburbs, they’re exurbs, suburbs of the suburbs.

At MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism we just completed a two year-plus project which not only confirms the demographic primacy of suburbia, but points to its profound environmental implications. Our research team replaced flawed, 19th century methods with a novel technique, successfully peer reviewed and then tested in Canada and Australia.

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